Microsoft announced this week that its forthcoming online service and accompanying software, dubbed MSN 7, will be made available online October 25, the same day Windows XP ships. Consisting of a Web portal, online access, and a new version of MSN Explorer, MSN 7 will integrate more closely with Microsoft's instant-messaging software and other online properties for music and video, money and finances, relationships, and games. The company says that MSN 7 is the foundation for its future moves in the online realm, in which Microsoft will increasingly go head to head with market leader AOL.
"MSN 7 is exciting because it redefines what people can accomplish on the Internet today, while laying the foundation for future experiences and services through Microsoft .NET," says Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "And the MSN Broadband offering will deliver the most useful Internet experience available today."
MSN Broadband is an extension of Microsoft's high-speed Internet-access initiative, which the company has opened up to a variety of DSL providers for better customer choice and coverage. Microsoft says it will offer this access to customers for as little as $39.95 a month and ease DSL installation, monitoring, and updating through its new IntelliConnect technology. By the first half of 2002, MSN Broadband will reportedly be available in 90 percent of the DSL-capable homes in the United States.
In addition to expanding Microsoft's broadband options, MSN 7 adds an updated--yet decidedly purple--UI, new home page design, offline email support in MSN Explorer 7, an updated version of MSN Messenger, and several optimizations designed to make the software work better with XP.